Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln on an academic fellowship in social media. What a wonderful experience.
Sue Burzynski Bullard, a professor at the university’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, spent some time at the Chicago Tribune last year learning about what we do. And through a program with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), she could ask one person come back to Nebraska and she chose me. To say I was humbled would be the biggest understatement in a long time.
I have always thought about becoming a college professor, mostly because I really love helping people learn. Standing in front of the students at UNL felt really natural to me. At one point, I really turned into a teacher. I said “good morning” and no one responded. So I said it again with some extra emphasis on the good. That worked. I followed up by saying that I start every day on Twitter by saying good morning to all my friends. It’s true, and it’s just as important as a good breakfast.
The students had great questions. Before I left, I created the hashtag #UNLSocial as a way to keep all the Twitter communication in one spot. My honest thinking was that there would be few questions and people would feel more comfortable tweeting them outside of class. But the opposite was true. There were plenty of questions – sometimes too many for the time I had allotted. So I decided that #UNLSocial will become a permanent column in my Tweetdeck. That way, if someone has a question next week or next year, they can always ask. So far, I’m still getting questions and I encourage students to continue using it whenever they feel the need.
For a closer look at the tweets using the hashtag #UNLsocial, have a look at this Storify.
I really want to thank all the professors and people who made my visit to Lincoln amazing, including Dean Jim O’Hanlon and associate dean/professor of journalism Charlyne Berens. I wish all of my college deans were this warm.
I taught in Carla Kimbrough’s ethics class – a large lecture on a big stage. I spoke to Barney McCoy’s broadcast writing class, as well as Michelle Hassler’s journalism and social media class. All of the classes were impressive, but Hassler’s even has their own hashtag: #j491. And I think she is on social media as much as I am. (I know! GASP!)
I met with Joe Weber’s beginning reporting class, Kathy Christensen’s advanced reporting class, and three classes with Ruth Brown (two advertising strategy and advertising campaigns). In the campaigns class, I could provide some real-world advice for a real campaign that the students are doing for a project.
I taught in two sections of Sue’s beginning editing classes and I was really impressed by their questions. On the last day, I spoke to Rick Alloway’s principles of communications class – back in the large lecture hall where I taught ethics. Considering not all of those students were necessarily majoring in journalism, I really enjoyed the conversation. And while he’s not the only one, Rick is really good on Twitter. He’s also a well-known radio voice in Lincoln.
And those were just the classes.
I also met with the students in the Jacht Club, the student-run ad agency. I love what adviser Amy Struthers was doing there. I also met with the fine folks in PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America. They are doing this amazing campaign to help feed hungry kids in Lincoln and I gave them some practical tips they can implement. I encourage you to follow their progress at hashtag #PBJinLNK – I was really impressed with their drive and creativity.
I also had the pleasure of meeting with Tim Anderson and the staff of Mosaic, a project covering Lincoln’s robust refugee community. During lunch with Tim and his class, I met some other students involved in the Native Daughters project – a new way to tell an older story about indigenous America.
I had pizza with the staff at the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper. This was a special one for me since I did every job at one time or another for my college paper. Although the tools have changed, nothing else really did. We had pizza, and every college newspaper office has a really old couch with a really interesting story.
I had lunch with Gary Kebbel. Talk about an interesting guy … formerly of the Knight Foundation, formerly of the Washington Post and the guy who created usatoday.com, Gary is working on a Center for Mobile Media at UNL. This semester, he’s teaching Journalism 902, which he calls Analyzing Mobile Media News and Conversation.
Dinner with Bryan Wang was interesting. His research focuses on social media and he also teaches a social media class. He also gave me some interesting insight into academia to go with some awesome Thai food. I don’t know if it’s a Lincoln thing, but this was some really good Thai food.
On my final day in Lincoln I sat down with Marilyn Hahn, the university’s communications specialist. She has some creative social media ideas. I then met and had lunch with some students from ACES, the campus chapter of the American Copy Editors Society. You can always tell how good the conversation is when you have a quarter of a piece of sandwich and barely get to finish it. No complaints, of course. And as I had mentioned on Facebook, whenever you have a poster on the bulletin boards at a university, that means you’ve made it.
I’m going to feel absolutely horrible if I forgot anyone, but thank you to everyone for such a great week in Lincoln. And thank you for the great job you are doing with your students in getting them prepared for a job in journalism and communications. It’s really refreshing to know they’re all on the right track.
My schedule didn’t allow for much free time, so I hope to get back to Lincoln some day to explore the city. And hopefully teach again.